This isn’t exactly a comprehensive guide to how Palm Oil is farmed. These photos were taken at Ganta Rehab, a leprosy hospital in Liberia where I photographed for a couple of weeks last year.
They try to be as self-sufficient as they can (predominantly because it’s cheaper that way) so have their own farmers and farm land to grow food for the patients, as well as Palm to produce the important oil that is used in most African staple diets.
The farmers retrieve it by shinning up trimmed bamboo poles to about 20-30 feet off the ground and chopping down the palm by hand.
The processing of the kernels is all done on-site as well. It’s boiled, mulched by turning a mill (in the background) and the oil is squeezed out, filtered and left to settle. I’m not sure of many more details than that, but it’s highly saturated, very red, has a strong distinctive taste and is probably quite efficient at clogging up your arteries. They store it in these jerry cans ready for use by the kitchens.
On a break some of the women working at the hospital sometimes bring them some cassava cake to eat. I didn’t really like it so I gave my portion to the guy on the left who showed me how to finish it.